Directed by: Jake Kasdan | Produced by: Matt Tolmach, William Teitler | Screenplay by: Jake Kasdan, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner | Story by: Chris McKenna | Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale | Music by: Henry Jackman | Cinematography: Gyula Pados | Edited by: Mark Helfrich, Steve Edwards | Production Companies: Columbia Pictures, Matt Tolmach Production, Radar Pictures, Seven Bucks Production | Distributed by: Sony Pictures Entertainment | Official Website
When I watched Jumanji movie back to 1995, and years after in Indonesia, I got mixed feelings about the original movie. I mean, I got the thrill, but somehow this board-game-turn-to-reality movie is a little lame. It is entertaining, thanks to the late Robin Williams, but still I find it just a so-so kiddie movie about how a game becomes real one. Maybe I was entertained because I was only 9 years-old at the time.
Then I saw the trailer of this 2017 version of Jumanji in the upcoming cinema session and I think of “Oh no, another remake, another lame version”, because hey, how do you think you can override the entertainment Robin Williams gave you? Besides, when I heard the title of Welcome to the Jungle, I was thinking of Axl Rose scream “You’re going to dieeeeeeeeee”. What would a lame movie that mixed up Guns and Roses’ song with the game-becomes-real be like? Turns out, I was wrong.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a standalone sequel-slash-remake movie of that 1995 original. Changed from the board game (because “Who still plays board game?”) into a console game, Jumanji “invited” four high school kids: geek Spencer (Alex Wolff), football jock Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), beautiful Bethany (Madison Iseman) and brainy Martha (Morgan Turner) into the game. In Jumanji world, that much more looks like a tropical forest, they turns into characters: Spencer becomes the muscular Dr. Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge becomes zoologist Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart), socially awkward Martha becomes Lara-Croft martial arts lady Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), and the most epic one beautiful Bethany becomes an “overweight middle-aged man” cartographer Dr. Shelly Oberon (Jack Black). Together, they should return the Jewel to the Jaguar Statue to finish the game, in order to return to the real world.
So their journey opens with landing at the land of Hippo, where Bethany aka Dr. Shelly was eaten by one of Hippo, so then they realize there are three bars tattooed on their forearm and each represent the lives they have left before “game over”. Spencer aka Dr. Bravestone quickly realizes that they have to finish several levels to reach the Jaguar Statue at the final moment. They also have to find “the missing piece” which turns out to be the pilot Seaplane McDonough (Nick Jonas). They also learns that there is a villain, Russell Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale), that wants to steal the jewel and control the whole world of Jumanji.
For me, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is the funniest comedy movie of this year. I seldom laugh constantly during a movie and this movie keeps me laughing until the end, without insulting the audience’s intelligence. There are so many comedy movies that probably thinks the audience are so dumb that the story are not well-built. Fortunately, they build each pace of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle have the reason why it has to be there.
The original 1995 version is a conflicted idea, poorly executed and counted too much on Robin Williams. Welcome to the Jungle offers better cinematography and a more entertaining one. It could be quite understandable since the 1995 version must not have this era’s CGI. The early 15 minutes is quite dragging but it is necessary to introduce the background of the story.
The most interesting part of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is that the casts are struggling with their new body, strength and weakness, and also personality. The most stellar performance comes from Jack Black, who has to act like he is a teenage girl trapped in a male body. Black’s awkwardness with the new body makes even peeing scene becomes one of the most hilarious scene of all. This movie also proves that Dwayne Johnson can act awkward too, since he keeps on trying to believe he has a perfect male body besides his own true self. The chemistry between each cast is somehow evident, and sincere in some parts.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle can be your alternative if you are sick with Skywalker family drama in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This movie also would be a perfect holiday movie you can watch and laugh at.